Tulsa-based Rachel Hayes to create large fabric art piece
WICHITA – Wichita Festivals, Inc. (WFI) and Harvester Arts announced in April that Riverfest 2016’s Artist-in-Residence is award-winning fiber/installation artist, Rachel Hayes. She has been visiting Wichita regularly since January to create SunSails, an installation built of nylon weatherproof fabric and high-tension cable.
Assisted by local artists who are sewing hundreds of fabric “flutters” that will adorn the nearly 50-foot-wide art piece, Hayes will begin installation of SunSails May 23. Longtime Wichita Festivals volunteer and local architect Terry Wiggers, senior vice president of SJCF Architecture, is teaming up with Hayes to bring her installation to life.
WICHITA - Ten Shockers were inducted into the 2016 Wichita State University College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame on May 14 at a special gala in the Marcus Welcome Center.
The 2016 categories and inductees are:
Alumni: Former WSU students who have distinguished themselves in the arts and who have been out of school for at least five years.
•Karla Burns, award-winning Broadway musical performer
•Matt Wilson, internationally renowned, award-winning jazz percussionist
•Eddie Martinez, international performer
By Blake Hampton, staff reporter
WICHITA - Creating a sense of community has always been important to LGBT people. It’s something members of the community and its allies strive to find ways to achieve. For the owners of three new bars it’s their way of creating that sense of community - by getting to meet others, discuss important topics and/or just having fun dancing and drinking the night away.
Club Inferno, 1544 S. Ida, opened May 18. Owner Robert Sanders has owned clubs such as Club 1507 before and feels that now more than ever is his time to come back into the nightlife scene.
By Trevor Reichle
WICHITA - Beginning June 6, “Sociology of Sexualities,” a class available at Wichita State University, will begin for the summer semester. The eight-week online class is taught by Dr. Jennifer Pearson, a sociology professor at Wichita State. While there are a variety of sexuality and gender-related classes available to students both for sociology and other majors, the class will be focusing on a different perspective of sociology – more specifically, how it is shaped in various cultures around the world.
By Jeromiah Taylor, staff reporter
WICHITA - Love has always been a big part of Claybourne Elder’s life.
The actor, who is playing the role of Curly in Music Theatre Wichita’s production of Oklahoma!, grew up in the Mormon faith and married his partner in 2012.
For Elder love and family were part of his experience with Mormonism.
“It’s not a common experience coming from such a conservative place to have parents and family that are so supportive, but mine really were,” Elder said. “Loving me was the simple choice for them no matter what.”
Growing up Mormon shaped Elder into the person he is now and gave him access to the arts.
Former firefighter continues journey, this time to law school
By Grayson Barnes
WICHITA - Bright flowers greeted me as I walked up to Lanna Allen’s Craftsman-style rental. Those blossoms, however, were not nearly as sparkling as the smile that she met me with when she opened her door. I got “the tour” before we sat down to talk, as I hoped I might, since I was awed by the built-ins. They just don’t make them like this anymore.
Allen, 34, has that same character. Recently, she was awarded a three-year scholarship to Washburn University to study law. It seems a natural jump for the woman who was Wichita’s first African-American female firefighter and who now works for the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center (WASAC), but Allen downplays this by commending others for their support.
By Thomas Witt, Executive Director
TOPEKA - This year’s legislative session, which opened the second Monday in January, saw a number of bills that would impact the Kansas LGBT community. Some were carry-over bills from last year’s session, while others were newly introduced this year.
The bright spot in the session was the hearing on House Bill 2323, which Equality Kansas supported. HB 2323, introduced in 2015 by friend and ally Representative John Carmichael (D-Wichita), would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Kansas Act Against Discrimination (KAAD) - our state’s non-discrimination law.
The hearing, scheduled just four days into the new session, was packed with spectators. The Speaker Pro Tem of the House, the House Republican Majority Leader, and the Lieutenant Governor were just part of the crowd that lined the Judiciary Committee walls in a standing-room-only hearing.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
KANSAS CITY - For anyone in the LGBTQ community looking for an advocate in the law profession, Madeline Johnson has your back. Johnson is a senior partner at Edelman, Liesen & Myers LLP. She focuses on gender law, employment law, education law, and family law.
Her education and experience were homegrown. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in German from the University of Missouri, then went on to obtain her Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. She is entrenched in the community, serving as the Chairwoman of the Board for the Kansas City Justice Project, and an ambassador with the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. She also invests her time as a director of mentoring at the Transgender Institute.
By Annette Hope Billings
TOPEKA - When does a dream of an LGBTQ community center reach reality status? When concerned people gather to propose it or when a building is acquired to house it? In the case of the center being developed in Topeka, Capital City Equality Center (CCEC), Executive Director Dan Brennan believes the dream is well on its way to becoming a reality.
The idea was borne from a series of events that identified a need to members of Topeka Pride for the city to be more affirming for LGBTQ citizens. A needs survey was conducted which identified themes centered around a safe meeting place. Organizers began discussions of a community center last May.
By Trevor Reichle, staff reporter
KANSAS CITY - Many dream of having their business featured on national television, but few ever see this become a reality. For gay restaurant and bar Hamburger Mary’s, the latter became true.
The franchise, which has 13 locations across the United States currently, was featured on the May 15 episode of Undercover Boss, a CBS show in which high-positioned members of a company go undercover as entry-level employees of their own company. Hard-working employees are subsequently rewarded for their hard work and dedication through a variety of prizes.
By Isabella Parker, staff reporter
HUTCHINSON - The Hutchinson chapter of PFLAG has started a new program it’s calling PFLAG 3D. The idea is a twist on the “support group” format and stands for Dinner, Documentary, and Discussion.
With different topics each month, there is always a fun reason to show up. It is still designed to provide services for any and all people associated with the LGBT+ community. The group meets once a month on the fourth Thursday, except for November and December.
By Isabella Parker, staff reporter
HUTCHINSON - Jody McClure, a 36-year-old certified life coach, has had many difficult experiences in her journey to accept herself and be accepted by others. Labeling herself as a “country kid,” she understands the difficulties in coming out in a conservative home.
She married her high school sweetheart, but soon realized that his relationship with her could not move forward unless she had a better understanding of herself. He wanted kids, but the idea of becoming a parent with a husband was too much for her to bear. Divorce soon followed, and when her family realized that McClure was questioning her sexuality, they revolted.
KANSAS CITY - Are you ready to be inspired, educated, and maybe even titillated? No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a film for you on the slate for Out Here Now: the Kansas City LGBT Film Festival, which returns to the Tivoli Cinemas in Westport from June 23-30.
The festival, now in its 17th year of placing LGBT films front and center, features a diverse array of compelling stories from filmmakers across the country, a few of whom are returning home to Kansas City to screen their work for the community.
TOPEKA - The Kansas Statewide Education Project (K-STEP) will present an event aimed to educate the public about what it means to be transgender on Saturday, June 18 at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave. The event, entitled Trans and Gender Non-Conforming: An Educational Experience, runs from 2-5pm and is free and open to everyone.
LAWRENCE - For the fourth year, NetworQ is hosting its annual Pride Picnic for a celebratory day among friends in Clinton Park, 901 W. 5th St., in Lawrence. The organization provides burgers and hot dogs, and picnic-goers are asked to bring a side dish and a preferred beverage.
The picnic will run from 2-7pm on Saturday, June 11.
Fock’s News pokes fun at the ultra-conservative
By Trevor Reichle, staff reporter
WICHITA - Earlier this year, Wichita filmmaker Wynn Ponder decided it was time to give progressive Kansans a voice to prove to people all over the country that we are made up of more than just the color of Republican Red. This idea became the backdrop of Fock’s News, a new YouTube show orchestrated by Ponder in an effort to poke fun of Fox News, which is known for its famously conservative slant on the news topics of the day.
KANSAS CITY - Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, pays tribute to the late U.S. Poet Laureate Dr. Maya Angelou by commissioning a song inspired by four well-known poems written by the world renowned poet and civil rights activist.
HMC is the first chorus in the nation to receive the rights from the late poet’s estate to create music that uses her poetry.
The song, titled I Rise, was created by internationally acclaimed musician and composer (and Kansas City resident) Mark Hayes. It is written for men’s voices and includes an orchestra of 16 instrumentalists.
ABILENE, RUSSELL, TOPEKA - The Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC) is hitting the road again following a wonderfully successful concert tour last month of Hays and Salina. On Friday, July 1, a touring ensemble of the Chorus will make stops in Topeka, Abilene, and Russell singing a few a cappella songs at each stop that are appropriate for the July 4 weekend. All performances are free and suitable for all ages.
KANSAS CITY - Presented by the Kansas City Diversity Coalition, KCPrideFest 2016 returns to the Berkley Riverfront Park in downtown Kansas City, June 3-5. Headlining performances include Grammy nominee DJ Tony Moran, Ty Herndon, DEV (former member of The Cataracs), and Beverly McClellan (finalist from the hit TV show The Voice). Additional entertainment by local performers in the Kansas City metro area and beyond round out this year’s festivities. Last year’s event brought an unprecedented number of attendees, 2016’s estimated attendance is 20,000.
By Kristi Parker
WICHITA - Nikki Moddelmog didn’t pick up a guitar until she was 23 or 24. Friends in Lawrence taught her how to play, she told KMUW in an interview. Since those days she has become a very popular artist in Wichita with bookings all over the city most weekends. She will be playing solo as a fundraiser for Table of Hope’s food pantry on June 24 at Sedgwick County Park, shelter #4. The concert, which kicks off a summer concert series, includes a dinner of pulled pork sandwiches at 6pm.
Concerts kick off in June with Nikki Moddelmog
By Blake Hampton, staff reporter
WICHITA - Coming this summer, MCC Table of Hope, formally known as the First Metropolitan Community Church (FMCC), is bringing to Wichita a new Summer Concert Series. There will be four shows throughout the season. The series is to benefit the church’s food pantry and pet food pantry.
Pride celebrations have always been life-changing experiences for me. I get energized by the sheer number of LGBT people and their supporters. I would think to myself, “How can anyone deny this many people?”
I remember running beside by first Pride Parade in Wichita with my friend Brock. We were too scared to join in, but excited nonetheless. The parade ended in Naftzger Park downtown; we watched from the alley across the street. The skinheads got in a tussle with Fred Phelps’ gang outside the fenced-in park. We saw someone pull a switchblade as the queers frolicked away unknowingly inside. It didn’t dampen our spirits.
The following April I was lucky enough to attend the 1993 March on Washington. Brock and his boyfriend Jerry and I drove “straight” through to D.C. without stopping. Neither Brock nor I could get off work so we went for the weekend. Kansas to Washington, D.C. and back in a weekend.
It was beyond empowering. There were so many people!! We were newly out and walked around dazed by the Radical Faeries, the AIDS Quilt, the leather contingency, and the thousands upon thousands of regular folks. We never made it to the stage. We didn’t know there WAS a stage!
I became Wichita’s Pride co-chairperson the next April - kind of by accident, on a whim, under emergency circumstances, pushed by friends. I founded the first PrideFest here that year - I wanted to bring a little bit of Washington, D.C. home so others could experience what I had the year before.
There wasn’t enough budget for my festival so I decided to sell ads for a guide to raise money. There had been guides before, but they had never made a profit. I didn’t know this. And lo and behold my guide made a $500 profit.
What happened that summer was karmic. Two weeks after the event I went to Stonewall 25 in New York. Words can’t describe that experience. It changed me. It spawned what had already been brewing inside.
I had left my job as an oil and gas accountant in February. I figured I would go back to accounting, but after Stonewall I knew things were going to be different. I had started this journey to New York with my last $400. I slept in the car, on a friend’s hotel room floor, and ate what I had packed in a large cooler. I left New York and went to Provincetown, and then I headed to Chicago. My best friend from high school lived there with her husband; they were both business majors.
I arrived in Chicago with my plan formulated. I was going to start a newspaper based on my experience with the Pride Guide. Now, I just needed to talk it through with another business-minded person. My friend who was a devout Christian, who spoke to me often about seeking out a church, LOVED the idea. I felt like it was a sign.
The rest, as they say, is history.
So back to the sheer number of LGBT people and allies. Here in Kansas our community has been under constant attack from our own governor. It’s gone on for months and gets tiring and demoralizing. I’m tired of being treated like I don’t belong here when in fact I’m PROUD to be a Kansan and love my city.
So for this Pride issue, I’m hoping that the sheer number of supporters inside these pages helps you feel less alone, that there is strength in our numbers, that goodness will overtake hate, that there are thousands of Kansans who support and embrace us. Try to surround yourself with positivity this Pride.
As a volunteer, along with several others, who proudly chose to help the employees of Positive Directions, Inc. (PDI) serve and assist the needs of those men and women in the Wichita area living with HIV/AIDS, I am shocked and saddened by its closing.
However, I was even more shocked to read the one-sided article in the May issue of Liberty Press [“Positive Directions changes focus, cuts services,” pg. 24]. PDI provided case management to approximately 200 people, ranging from acquiring prescription drug coverage to housing and various medical issues (such as vision).
Most all of these people and their case management will be transferred over to the only “other organization” in the area: KU Medical and Dr. Sweet’s clinic, which already handles around 2,000 people.
PDI also helped people with clothing through donations of used clothes to a clothing bank as well as occasional toiletries.
Regarding the food bank, contrary to Mr. Durfee’s claim, NONE of the food provided to clients was for ANY “specialized nutrition plans.” All the food was basic food stuffs. The food bank also provided each person with a half-gallon of milk AND a dozen eggs each time they came in, which was once per week, either on Tuesday or Wednesday. No other food banks offered milk and eggs to people unless they had a family/kids at home.
For Thanksgiving of last year, PDI also gave out turkeys and bags of fixings so that its clients could have a decent Thanksgiving meal.
As a member of the LGBTQ community here, I think Mr. Durfee and the Board of PDI, instead of reinvigorating, reinvesting and re-energizing the mission of the agency, have committed a very misinformed and short-sighted decision that will be, in both short and long term, detrimental to many people and the community. Shame on them.
By Isabella Parker
For years, the LGBT+ community has fought and struggled for equality. On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court finally recognized that same-sex marriages should be legal in all states. Immediate relief flowed through not only my mind, but many others as well.
I remember clearly when the Utah government allowed for same-sex marriage, my mother’s two friends (who had been dating for years) ran to the courthouse and became the first same-sex couple married in the U.S. Mormon capital. The joy that they shared with themselves and their friends was overpowering and inspiring.
Friends and family of mine have also expressed this inspiring feeling in regards to the law that was passed, but they also have some concerns for the future of the LGBT+ community.
Alex Meyer, a sophomore, says that “discrimination is still evident” in schools and workplaces, and Cameron Spliechal, also a high school sophomore, has noticed that “it [the Supreme Court decision] has gotten a lot of backlash.” Nevertheless, this improvement in government policy towards same-sex marriages is a far step forward from where we were as a country.
Knowing that thousands of couples across the country are now able to experience more equality with their loved ones is something that gives hope to the progression of social justice in the United States. Some could argue that this law does not change much in the regard of discrimination, especially for transgender people in the nation, but there is no doubt that it has definitely allowed our country to continue to grow and recognize all people as equals, no matter the sexual orientation.
Hopefully this policy will inspire more people to take action against injustices in the U.S., and bit by bit we can truly change so many lives by destroying discrimination and increase acceptance. This June 26, make sure to remember that our country’s decision has sparked a hope for a brighter future for the LGBT+ community. l